Sporting myriad shades of blue, a 100-strong brigade of paint-can drummers, kazoo players and pirates heads south from Christie Pits to Fort York on Sunday, October 15.
Garrison Creek may have been buried decades ago, but once a year it resurfaces as a flowing river with legs, part of the Toronto Public Space Committee's (TPSC) Human River Walk.
Subtle signs in the streetscape, dips and slopes in Bickford Park and wider sections of College, tell us that Garrison continues to run beneath our feet.
A woman holding a paper fish cut-out hands me a note about one of Garrison Creek's secrets: bats, a species attracted to water, congregate at Bickford Park at sundown.
As the H2O crew, carrying a long blue linen cloth, stop dumbfounded car drivers near Trinity Bellwoods Park, they start chanting, "I'm a river, hear me roar, roar, splash, splash!"
"We're making people more conscious of the history of Toronto," says organizer Erin Wood of the TPSC.
Wood says the group is pushing the city for more ponds and water features in parks. The Garrison Creek Linkage Project, a city plan to connect green spaces between St. Clair West and Fort York with pedestrian and bike paths, was supposed to help achieve that. But it trickled off last year after council opposed the idea of revealing a section of the buried Crawford Street Bridge that once spanned Garrison Creek.
Area councillor Joe Pantalone says the linkage project is still a work in progress, and that by next year a path system will connect Trinity Bellwoods, Roxton Road Parkette and Fred Hamilton Park. He says street signs will mark Garrison's former path.
The trees along the route, including a massive weeping willow near Shaw and Dundas, aren't part of the creek's original landscape - although it's safe to say the willows in the area probably wouldn't be as grand without the underground water source.
"Just as we've lost the rivers, we've lost the forest and that natural heritage that comes with it," says arborist Todd Irvine of Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), who notes that Garrison's banks once so teemed with trees that "a squirrel could've walked from the edge of the lake to Markham" without touching the ground.
At Stanley Park, we're greeted by a flock of twirling and circling white paper geese. The river looks a little tired where it surfaces above ground at historic Fort York. Two clowns named Morro and Jasp ask a confused police officer on horseback if they can go for a swim. "Isn't it a bit cold?" he asks. Not if the water is you.